Sep 17, 2019

NYC says 1.1M students can skip school for climate strike protest

Students outside the United Nations during a climate change protest in New York, Sept. 6. Photo: Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

School districts are debating what position to take after New York City announced that 1.1 million public school students could skip classes without penalties to join the global youth climate strikes Friday, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Per the Times, this a test of the movement’s impact — by causing disruptions and getting noticed by political leaders who are in NYC for the United Nations Climate Action Summit 3 days later and the General Assembly meeting that follows it.

  • Organizers expect millions of people to leave work, home and school to take part in massive climate strike protests around the world.

The big picture: Youth strike advocates Fridays for Future said more than 2,400 events were taking place Sept. 20–27 to coincide with the UN climate summit on Sept. 23, where Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is due to make an address.

  • More than 115 countries and 1,000 cities have registered so far, the group said.
"All eyes are on the United States which already has 145 cities signed up, with participation that is expected to be tenfold when compared with the first two global strikes in March and May of this year."

What's happening in the U.S.: The Times reports that large districts around the U.S. were discussing on Monday afternoon the issue of whether to allow students to miss school for the strikes.

  • A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Unified School District told the NYT that officials were "still finalizing" plans. Cambridge, Massachusetts, City Council members said they would discuss a motion on Tuesday to excuse students.

The other side: Critics, "ranging from climate-change deniers to people who argue for a less radical approach" to tackling global warming, "said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was using school attendance policy to promote a political aim," the NYT notes.

  • The New York Post’s editorial board called the move "out-and-out government sponsorship of a particular point of view." There was some concern that a few students could take advantage of the opportunity to skip school for fun, according to the Times.

Go deeper: The new social movement calling for action on climate

Go deeper

In photos: Youth climate protests take over the world

Students protesting climate change in Manila, Philippines. Photo: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

Millions of young people across 150 countries are protesting climate change on Friday, with many students skipping school to participate, the Washington Post reports.

What's next: The protests come days before world leaders are set to meet at a climate summit at the United Nations. UN Secretary-General António Guterres wants leaders to come with actionable plans and not empty promises, per the Post.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 20, 2019

Photo from Greta Thunberg's 2018 climate strike shows massive growth over a year

Greta Thunberg. Left: Michael Campanella/Getty Images. Right: Reuters

On the left, on Aug. 2018, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg holds a climate strike with a sign reading "School strike for the climate" outside the Swedish parliament. Only a few other students joined her.

Driving the news: At right, Greta Thunberg, now 16, speaks to a huge crowd in Manhattan on Friday as millions of young people flooded streets around the world to demand political leaders take urgent steps to stop climate change. New York City announced its 1.1 million students were allowed to skip school to participate.

Go deeperArrowSep 21, 2019

Obama meets with Greta Thunberg, "one of our planet's greatest advocates"

Former President Obama praised climate activist Greta Thunberg on Tuesday after meeting with the 16-year-old during her visit to Washington, D.C., to lobby lawmakers on environmental issues.

Why it matters: Thunberg rose to prominence through weekly climate protests and addresses to the UN Climate Change Summit in Poland and the World Economic Forum in Davos.

  • She started the Fridays for Future school climate strikes in August last year when she staged a solo protest outside the Swedish parliament. It's grown into a global movement.
  • Thunberg will lead a global climate strike this Friday ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit 3 days later, which she'll address.

The big picture: Thunberg also met with Green New Deal co-sponsor Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) at Congress. Markey tweeted that he was "proud to join young climate activists."

What he's saying: Markey tweeted, "By failing to take meaningful action on climate, our leaders failed the young people of the world. A generation of leaders owes our youngest generations an apology & a commitment to finally take the bold action we’ve failed to achieve."

Keep ReadingArrowSep 17, 2019